According to several interviews with frequent Chinese travelers to the United States, those with China Mobile as their carrier are often unable to access American websites and apps that are banned in China.
A Chinese journalist who regularly travels to the United States for work, and who asked to speak anonymously, said she couldn’t access Facebook, Google Maps or the New York Times in the United States with her China Mobile number.
On its official website, China Mobile offers a North America international roaming plan but doesn’t say whether the plan allows users to access websites such as Facebook and YouTube.
China Mobile started conducting censorship in the United States roughly four to five years ago, according to an estimate by Sun. It is unclear how many people use China Mobile in the United States, or how many of them are U.S. citizens.
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Commerce recommended the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) deny a license to China Mobile, the state-run company that is the world’s largest phone network by subscribers.
The Commerce Department suggested the move because of the national security risk China Mobile poses. Indeed, because China Mobile is an arm of the Chinese state, there are legitimate concerns that Beijing could use it to gather data on American citizens.